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Tops, Drops, or Hoods?(11 posts)

Tops, Drops, or Hoods?Dan Q
Oct 9, 2003 10:52 AM
Since building up my CX bike I have found positioning to be much more complicated than on my road or mtn bike. I am interested in what works for you and how you felt in the beginning. These are my feelings:

Tops: NO BRAKES! Actually I recently got some top mount levers so I can actually stop instead of plowing into the brush when I unexpectedly run into someone (not literally). On my mtb I use 1 finger for braking but the canti's require at least 2 to stop in a timely fashion. This makes holding onto the bar with just 2 fingers difficult, so instead I leave all 4 fingers on the levers and grip the bar with my thumbs and the levers with the other 4 fingers. This is ok except for fast bumpy downhills where I don't feel I have a good enough grip to securely grab the bars. Of course you can't shift from here either.

Hoods: Where I prefer to grip, but after 45 min my hands are dying because of the different muscles required to grab a handful of brake from this position. I actually swapped which side lever controls which brake because my right hand is stronger and so it does a better job of working the front brake. I spend 90% of the time on my road bike on the hoods and this is where I feel I have the most agressive stance. Unfortunately on the CX bike the hoods are really insecure when going downhill at speed. I feel as though if I hit the brakes too hard my hands will slide right off. I shift a lot more when on the hoods because it seems easiest from there.

Drops: Definately the most secure position but I hate being in the brops when going uphill. I feel like I have low power from this position and the steering seems unstable. It is also tougher for me to shift from here and grabing the brakes is more difficult.

Where do you guys spend most of your time? Do you get more flexible after time and learn to use the drops better, or do your hands get stronger and you can use the hoods more? I am interested in your what your evolution of hand positioning has been since starting to ride CX.

Oct 9, 2003 11:31 AM
Drops. I stay in the drops a lot. When riding on the road, I'm in the drops almost all the time except when climbing hills and a few other occasions. In 'cross, I find riding the drops very advantageous for two reasons:

1) Hands are in the right position to pull break cable in quick.

2) Hands are in the power position. What I mean is that you will have the most leverage in the drops -- leverage for steering, leverage for sprinting.

I have a pair of top levers and I haven't even mounted them. Now that I have some races under my belt, I will be selling them because I just don't need them. I have descended some pretty steep stuff with my hands on the drops and I just extend my arms and drop my butt off the back of my seat.

Also, I see a lot of guys don't really know how to turn. The trick is to keep your torso low, arms bent, and hands on the hooks. When you go into the turn, push the bike away from you to keep the bike more upright and more rubber on the ground. I pass people in the turns regularly because I can take the turns faster and tighter.

DISCLAIMER: I have a couple of spacers on the steerer tube and a +10 stem. This puts the top of my bars only slightly lower than my seat. I can ride the drops and get good visibility. YMMV.
Hoods and drops but never tops...Chicago_Steve
Oct 9, 2003 12:03 PM
First off a disclaimer... I haven't raced but I do get a fair amount of offroad riding in on my CX bikes.

Lots of riding in the hoods has toughened up my hands so that they don't hurt like they once did. Playing around with the height of my hoods has also helped. For climbs I'm an out of the saddle kind of guy so climbing from the hoods lets me be more upright while still being able to shift.

As for decents I keep my weight back and will either stay in the hoods or if the decent is really steep/tough go to the drops. The drops help keep my center of gravity low so I'm more stable.

Like the privious poster mentioned I run spacers and a stem with some rise so that my saddle is nearly lever with the bars. This upright position mimics my mountain bike and helps me get away from the "over the bars" feel.

One final thought that might get you in the drops more. Look for a bar with minimal drop (ie-Salsa Short and Shallow). Less drop will make it easier to transition from the top or hoods to the drops...
mostly drops, sometimes hoods...matt friedman
Oct 9, 2003 12:50 PM
I'm nostly in the drops, but there are times -- climbing, hammering out of the saddle at the start -- when i ride the hoods.
2nd that!arctic hawk
Oct 9, 2003 1:16 PM
I am most comfortable in the drops for the most part except for sprinting (on the hoods) & climbing (hoods or top of the bar).
re: Tops, Drops, or Hoods?morati
Oct 9, 2003 3:10 PM
I built my road bike to be ridden on the hoods and my 'cross bike to be on the drops. Raise the handlebar using shims under the stem to do this.You will have more control and better braking. Good Luck!
all the aboveatpjunkie
Oct 9, 2003 3:21 PM
use top mounts and the tops for twisty singletrack sometimes (throw back to narrow barred MTB) and for suer steep drops. Hoods and drops for general riding
Drops for dismounts/re-mounts?highcamp
Oct 9, 2003 6:34 PM
Are you guys also doing your dismounts from the drops and re-mounting in the drops?

I presently am all over the place on the bars. The tops for gnarly singletrack; the drops for descents, deep gravel/sand and sprinting; the hoods for the leftovers and when I need to get some oxygen in the lungs.

Only problem is that the shift/brake levers are mounted on the bars like it were a road bike. I've noticed that a lot of folks tilt their bars back a bit and bring their levers down a bit. This effectively provides a flat surface for the hoods-to-bar transition rather than the slight dip along the bend of the bar before the curve. I think I'm going to give this a try for a bit.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what the "drops" folks do for barriers.

Drops for dismounts/re-mounts?matt friedman
Oct 10, 2003 4:35 AM
to be honest, i have trouble dismounting from the drops. i can do it, but it requires more thought than dismounting from the hoods.
Mario DeClerqtriangleforge
Oct 10, 2003 5:10 AM
DeClerq usually dismounts & mounts in the drops (or I guess did, now that he's retiring), but he's pretty much the only one I'm aware of. I'm most often on the hoods for off & on, though I suspect I'm occasionally on the tops if I'm grinding into a hill dismount, though I'm seldom in a mood to notice details like that in those situations. For a while I was practicing dismounts & mounts from the tops, but could never make it feel as natural & secure as having my hands on the hoods.

re: Tops, Drops, or Hoods?swimbikerunjump
Oct 10, 2003 6:29 AM
Almost always drops -I feel I have the most power there- and have set up for that position. I only use the hoods on an uphill to open my chest and take in more air. I dismount from the drops too. All shifting and breaking is available. Drops feel real stable to me after riding all summer in Aero bars!